Hey, You! Control Your Cloud!

Control Your Cloud

control your cloudWhile the word ‘cloud' is being thrown around left and right and businesses signing up for cloud hosting services with increasing speed, there are issues that need to be addressed. Security is one of them, and often due to security analysts warning of the possible breaches that could occur.

But why are people so scared of the cloud? It can save a company a bundle of money, especially in the lessened need for IT staff. But remember, it's a lessened need. You don't want to get rid of your entire IT department. You still need someone there to manage, secure, and deliver content to the cloud. Security is a major concern, but doesn't need to be the end-all of your cloud hosting strategy.

Private Cloud To The Rescue

When you're concerned about the security of your data while it travels from your within business to the cloud outside of your business, know that you can introduce an internal cloud. Not only does this allow you to slowly move your way to the public cloud over time, it is a great way to deal with regulatory and legal issues of storing certain types of data in the cloud.

Increasingly, companies are storing their data with a handful of big name cloud vendors. These companies will place their customer data into a cloud hosting environment with one cloud company and their applications into the cloud of another. It seems to be thought that if one cloud fails for any reason, they can simply just move data over to the other cloud. Although it will take a few days at most, that's better than finding a whole new cloud solution!

Cloud Is Growing

The cloud is giving businesses the power to scale down their in-house IT systems by accessing these applications and data remotely thanks to cloud hosting. This leads to a lower rate of outsourcing: IT systems are less likely to be incompatible and won't require any form of integration. This leads to the scaling down of IT staff, as well as significant cost savings that go along with it — one of the major reasons a business switches to cloud hosting in the first place.

Cisco surveyed over 2,000 tech managers in 13 countries in December 2012, and discovered 52 percent of them rely on, or plan to rely on in the future, cloud hosting. As more businesses see that the security risks are the same as traditional hosting environments, that number is expected to grow.

And it's easy to see why businesses would find value in the cloud. Take Amazon, for example. It is highly scalable, and offers pay-as-you-go storage for startups and small businesses to begin their ventures without the massive amount of capital typically required to invest in IT.

Control Your Cloud: Balance Is Key

So although it may not be the totally secure option out there, know that nothing is totally secure. It's the nature of computing. The best bet: retain some IT staff to assure that you are doing everything in your power to protect yourself from a dangerous security breach. This is the only way. Although you can't say it won't happen, the more prepared you are, the less likely your chances.

Are you afraid of the cloud? What are some of your concerns?

Are There WordPress Alternatives?

Are There WordPress Alternatives

Are There WordPress AlternativesWe talk a lot about cheap hosting WordPress sites. WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there for blog, online retail site, or website. However, are there any alternatives?

If you're considering WordPress for your cheap hosting website, here are five WordPress alternatives  compared it against to make a more informed final decision. Just know that these WordPress alternatives don't feature the massive community of developers there to help you when you get stuck or have a question that WordPress has.

1. Are There WordPress Alternatives: Plone

This is a free open source CMS option that is a little better than Drupal and Joomla!. Why? Plone performs well, relies on the Python programming language, and is easier to use. Available in 40 languages, Plone has come to be a well-respected CMS in its ten years of existence. Their newest version, released last year, features many improvements beneficial to the user, making it easier to set up your website.

The administration tools and process for creating your user profile are said to be better than WordPress, and its internal search is function is highly useful.

2. Are There WordPress Alternatives: Adobe Business Catalyst

This is a SaaS-based CMS and e-commerce tool offering, available for $6 per month. It's perfect for the user who doesn't possess a lot of technical knowledge, featuring simple drag and drop functionality. You should have just a little HTML or CSS familiarity, but just the basics.

Installation is similar to WordPress, edit content directly on the web page, and add forms and analytics that are highly useful. The downfall: it's an Adobe product. That means excellent support comes with a price tag.

Pick up the webCommerce edition for $60 each month, which can support up to five users. Social media integration, custom-built FAQs, apps, and other modules are a bonus but storage is just two gigabytes. If you begin an Adobe Creative Cloud membership, Adobe gives you five free Business Catalyst webBasics sites.

3. Are There WordPress Alternatives: Typo

Built on Ruby on Rails, this CMS is free and open source. The style and layout is similar to WordPress, so if that's what you're used to, the transition should be smooth! They just don't have the massive developer community WordPress has. However, out of the alternate CMS options, this is one of the most popular.

It's highly reliable for many uses, and features customizable SEO interface and themes, individual user dashboards, and category support. It's also simpler than WordPress to get up and running, meaning less time getting used to using it.

4. Are There WordPress Alternatives: eZ Publish

Just like WordPress, eZ Publish is built with PHP. It is offered in an open source version for small businesses and publishers, and an enterprise version as well. It takes a bit more work to get it all set up as compared to WordPress, but it offers more features and is highly scalable. Check out eZ Publish's App Factory tool to build mobile apps!

5. Are There WordPress Alternatives: Umbraco

This is another free, open source CMS, with version 6.0 released this January. It offers backwards-compatibility with Umbraco v4, a new public API, and faster data layer. It is becoming increasingly popular worldwide due to the fact it is highly customizable, and development is picking up in response.

It supports HTML5 uploads, and oEmbed tooling for embedding various media. To get an idea for the enterprise uses of an Umbraco site, the UK Wired site, Heinz, Tesco, and SanDisk all run on the CMS.

Have you tried any of these alternatives to WordPress for your cheap hosting site? Tell us about your experience!

Photo courtesy of PhilCampbell via Flickr Creative Commons

Hard Drive Dead? These Cloud Backup Sites Will Help Next Time

Hard Drive Dead? These Cloud Backup Sites Will Help Next Time

SugarSync Hard Drive DeadIs your hard drive dead? Has all your data been lost? Yeah, it's probably not the best time to think about backup. Then again, better late than never, right? You should always, always, always (did I say “always?”) back up your data. It doesn't even have to be hard, either. It can also be free. Really! Here are the top ten free ways to back up your data.

1. Google Drive: with 15 GB of free storage, Google Drive is a popular option. Drive is simple to use, is there when you need it (really, I can't remember when Drive was down), and it's also a great way to share and edit data with other people, if this is what you want to do. There's that whole NSA and Google scare thing to consider, so encrypt your data if you want to go the extra mile.

2. SugarSync: SugarSync is another popular way to backup your data. This site now offers 5 GB free, and that ain't bad (it's not as good as what Drive offers, but it's still 5 free GB). The interesting thing about SugarSync is that you can increase the amount of storage you have by recommending the service to friends, or by taking some online quizzes.

3. Dropbox: Okay, we've talked about Dropbox before, and now there's some concern that Dropbox isn't safe (again, you can encrypt your data first), but it's still a popular data storage tool – and an excellent collaboration tool too.

4. Skydrive: I don't really dig the Skydrive folder that Microsoft has set up. Otherwise, Skydrive offers 7 GB of free space (dropped from 25 GB).

5. Wuala: never heard of this one? It's not a bad way to go either, and Wuala provides you with 5GB of free storage. More importantly, though, Wuala also comes with file transfer encryption (pre-transfer), and that's something that's really important these days.

You can't have enough data backup options, and free data backup options are the best kind. If you have data, you need to back it up. Don't wait until your hard drive fails completely. Back it all up now, or you will – mark my words – be sorry one day.

Hard Drive Dead: Some Additional Considerations

Free sites (most of them) do not offer encryption security. What does that tell you? You have to encrypt your files before you send them. Now, if you have a whole lot of sensitive data, I highly suggest going with a cloud data storage company like Symform or Cloudsafe. These cloud hosting sites offer a lot to companies looking to store heavy data securely. Take a look at that linked article for more details.

It also pays to find a free storage site that will still exist a year from now. You don't want to store your data in the cloud with some new site, and have that site fold up shop while you sleep – goodbye, data!

Questions? Comments? Leave me a note below, and I'll get back to you soon!

How to Stop Google From Following You

Stop Google From Following YouWorried about Google? There are some ways to stop the spy – er, search giant – from tracking your every move. Alright, to be fair, Google might not be quite the villain we are making it out to be right now, but it's still never a bad idea to cover your tracks. Here's how to get Google off of your back / Stop Google From Following You.

Stop Google History

1. Head to the Google History homepage
2. Click on the small gear icon that's located on the top right of your screen.
3. Choose ‘Settings.'
4. Choose the ‘Turn Off' button.

Get Rid of Your History

After you have turned your settings off, a nice Google box will appear that lets you know you can delete your search history. Google does not do this automatically when you turn off your history, so you have to do this manually.

Click on the link that's included in that dialogue box (it's hidden in the word ‘delete,' and you can find it by hovering your mouse over that word. From there, simply ‘Delete All.' That's it – Google will now stop following you.

Why Google Collects Data

Why is Google following you to begin with? First, a lesson.

Today's Lesson: in today's Internet world, you have to ‘opt out' of everything. Nobody will ask you to opt-in to anything, and you may not even know that some things exist. But, you still have to opt-out. My advice is to always check settings no matter what you are using, and always find out if a company is collecting data. Then, simply switch that collection button off.

Now, onto why Google collects your data. It's simple, really, Google collects data because that information is then sold to advertisers. That's simple enough to understand, right? Google sells your search information to advertisers, those advertisers pay Google, and all is well. Unless, of course, you disrupt it all by turning off that tracking mechanism…

Stop Google From Following You: Another Option

If you really don't want to be tracked at all, and you are super paranoid about it, you can always turn to Tor. The Tor browser is highly secure, and there's no way that Google will follow you if you use Tor (heck, most people won't be able to follow you if you use Tor). So, that's really your most secure option.

Worried about Google following you? Want more tech or browser tips? Looking for something else to do while you are at work? Why not ask me? I'll let you know how to accomplish whatever task you have set out to do.

Do you have any other safe browsing techniques or ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

Increasing Website Traffic? Twitter Can Help!

Increasing Website Traffic? Twitter Can Help!

Increasing Website Traffic? Twitter Can HelpYou know how hard it is to drum up new visitors for your cheap hosting site. You've added a blog, started a Facebook business page, and even marketed your site locally. But have you explored Twitter as another marketing tool?

Twitter is a fantastic way to bring targeted traffic to site, one of the best options that exist on the Internet. However, before you get started tweeting the days away, you need to assure your cheap hosting provider is able to handle the added traffic coming in thanks to your newfound marketing efforts!

The Relationship Between Twitter And Your Blog

You have a blog, and as such, need a way for people to subscribe. Feed burner is an easy tool to get people subscribed, and a great way to start is to email existing customers and contacts asking them to subscribe.

Put your email account to work, telling people of this new subscription feature. When they are subscribing, they receive emails with new blog posts featuring a Facebook ‘Like' button and ‘Retweet' button. When they read these blog posts and find the information valuable, all they need to do is click that little ‘Retweet' button. Now, your post is visible to their friends and colleagues on Twitter, bringing in (you guessed it!) new blog subscribers!

Increasing Website Traffic? Twitter Can Help!: What To Tweet

News is huge. Most of the time, news is reported on Twitter before it reaches the media. People can search for tweets by keyword (which is nice because people who are actually interested in a keyword relating to your website will see it), and you can use Twitter's ‘trending topics' feature to find direction for future blog posts.

While networking and getting the word out about your brand is a great way to get your website noticed, Twitter is one of the best ways to push traffic towards your website.

Great Ways To Push Traffic To Your Website And Blog With Twitter

Post an offer on Facebook and then tweet the offer a few times each day. Tweets don't stay up very long (the average lifetime of a tweet is a mere 30 seconds) so frequent tweeting of these offers is key.

Rely on HootSuite to schedule your tweets.

Make the next tweet a little bit different from the last. Mix it up a bit, and pay attention to which tweet gets the most responses. Also, determine which tweets increase sales.

Go through your blog and tweet past articles. Aim for sharing a new article each hour.

What if you don't have a lot of blog content? You'd better get to creating some. In the interim, however, you can share articles or news you come across that's relevant to your industry.

Automation

As previously mentioned, HootSuite is a great way to automate your tweets. Other great tools are Tweet Deck and Tweet Adder. These tools allow you to tweet without being chained to your computer all day long. Take one day each week, and schedule tweets to last all week long.

Twitter Gone Wrong

Creating a Twitter account but not using it.

Don't forget to engage with your followers! If someone retweets, reach out to them. It is proven that those who engage with their readers succeed in their Twitter campaigns.

Don't tweet things that offer no value to your readers! For example, if you sell art supplies, don't tweet something related to the gas and oil industry!

Web Hosting

Before launching a campaign, you need to make sure your website can handle the added traffic. Otherwise, your site will crash and the campaign fails. No one likes a non-functional website!

Do you use Twitter? How has it improved your website traffic?